Friday, August 10, 2012

Big Excitement

...Up at the Skunk Works North Campus. I'd gone up to investigate a smaller problem, and had, and it looked possibly solved. I was sitting at the desk when...the fluorescent lights went dim (!) and the entire building growled -- but not for long.

The lights went out, the air-handlers stopped and it was dead dark and silent. Distantly, I heard a loud cough, a deep rumble and a rising whine: the MegaWatt genset starting up!

Thirty seconds later, the lights were back on and I was scrambling around resetting things, hoping the air-handlers would start up soon. The place ran on the generator for about an hour and a half before switching back to commercial power a lot more nicely than it had gone away.

There'd been an accident a couple of miles away, taking out a power pole and dropping two of the three phases, which is never good.

Also not good? About ten minutes after the store-bought juice returned, the lights flickered and something went BANG!-pffffft not very far away. It sounded like a shotgun and was followed by a whiff of smoke! I called the Fire Department and they were on the scene in minutes; but we went through the building three times without finding anything. They could smell the smoke when they arrived but it dissipated. So they left; meantime, my boss and I had spoken and he asked me to wait until he showed up, and we did the same walk-through. Nothing.

Present theories are A) an overstressed light ballast failed safe or B) we have incinerated a mouse in the 480V/1200A switchgear.

Darned if I know. It was more excitement than I wanted.

11 comments:

Keads said...

It is always more excitement than I need to go to the 30+ year old CAT genset here. Transfer switch? Westinghouse that we stuffed in 18 years ago. Good with that. UPS batteries throwing up, not so much.

Hope it all worked out for you.

JC said...

Ohh wow, soundss like you blew an xformer. Funny fun fun! What's your input - KVA or low voltage?

JC said...

Damn, hope it's not the xfer switch. Damn part's always on back order. And the one shipped is never the one ordered.
(sound of unhappy customers with pitchforks and torches)

Able said...

Jeez Guys! It's obvious what happened..

The girdle-springs on the drawn-reciprocation-dingle-arm have slipped off the nofertrunions. You just need a new turbo-entabulator.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=E66hTRjLWQw

JC said...

Drop one leg, it's an inconvenience. Drop 2 legs, it's a crisis. Hope it works out, darling.

Roberta X said...

So far, so good. It still worries me -- that old building has a lot of odd corners.

Dave H said...

To borrow a phrase: Well behaved equipment seldom makes history.

MSgt B said...

Probly not a mouse.

Fried a Gecko on a 240V breaker once. Phew! What a stench.

Cliff Smith said...

Under the Harrisburg station we fry a pigeon every now and then. 1.1 K minimum clearance, It's so common they just hit the reset, and only check if it goes again.

Anonymous said...

We dropped a phase the other day. No big deal for us. Chem lab lost a pump and cooler. Super duper computor lab looked like something out of a horror movie, windows fogged and lots of blinking lights.

Gerry

Colorado Joe said...

A few years back when I worked in the Gulf of Mexico, I experienced a visiting tree frog assuming plasma temperature inside the turbine of the Bell 206 I was riding in about 30 seconds after take-off.

A Very loud BANG (like someone hit the tail boom with a 10 lb. hammer - hard!) followed by lots of sirens and blinking lights in the cockpit....not a good start to the day!

The pilot was good and got us back on the pad without going splat. Afterwards he told us they picked the frogs out of the intakes every morning but still missed one every now and then(?!!).

I hope your (vaporized critter?) doesn't cause you any more problems!

Joe